Just another tequila sunrise


There must be a price to pay for a balmy spring, tequila sunrises, arrays of visiting parrots  and the clear, bright colours of the nasturtiums in our garden. I can’t get enough of the scenes, sounds and scents of this Spring.

Maybe my sense of awe is exacerbated by the banality of the national news. Last night we were treated to some variety  from the usual house fire, convenience store robbery and road crash,  – a story on the condition of city roads, which required 86 000 potholes to be fixed last year!

Spice is also provided on occasion with the mandatory attempts at courthouses to get a response from head shaven, tattooed bikies … are you sorry for what you did?zenasturtiums

I suppose it is a reasonable counter to the 20 odd years sprinkled with bombs and bodies before I left Africa

This sort of karma thinking is unsettling. How can life be so good for me when there are people being washed away in South Australia, blown away in Syria and unable to get any money to buy necessities in Zimbabwe.

Ice cream anyone? I’m afraid there’s only vanilla…

Please let there be no payback – I’ve been a good boy, really!

Let us give thanks and praise.


Biltong, Boerewors and Blatjang: how to fix South African Rugby and politics

biltong-hanging-upThese are the iconic foodstuffs loved by all South Africans: biltong  being strips of dried salted meat; boerewors the spicy farmers’ sausage without which a braaivleis is just another meal.



Blatjang  is the spicy, tangy chutney  sauce introduced by Malay slaves in the 18th century. The even more universal foodstuff is maize porridge called putu, pap or sadza which was the staple food of most black South Africans.

Latterly, MacDonalds is making headway as a replacement.

Parliamentary news and rugby commentaries will tell you that, despite apartheid’s removal from legislation over 20 years ago, it remains alive and kicking as a political sledgehammer with which to attack and defend.

bokkeOne of the most obvious targets of the political machinations deployed to rectify the apparent iniquities of the past has been rugby.

This was an Englishman’s game introduced in the 1800’s with the first Springboks selected in 1891.

By 1903  only 25% of Springboks selected had Afrikaans names. This reached 51% only in 1951 – a slow transformation.

Since the new South Africa, 18% of Springboks have not been white; but only 15% have had English names.

So have the English speaking South Africans been the sacrificial lambs?

(Someone once said: There are 3 great untruths: Lies, damn lies and statistics)

I believe there is a simple 3 step solution, which will bring about equanimity in rugby, satisfy politicians, generate increased player registration and make many people happy.

It lies in the hands of those that love rugby and their country.

It could spread to the rest of the country and actually deliver the Rainbow Nation so wonderfully projected by Madiba.

First of all: change the National Anthem quickly – the disproportionate  volume when the Afrikaans bit is sung is like a kick in the goolies for the new South Africa.

Secondly: Every rugby fan should take a person of a different colour to rugby matches for a year; families go with families …..

Thirdly: Have a braai together after each game –Biltong, boerewors en blatjang  will save the game and the country !

sa-flagSimple in concept: everyone subordinates their historical differences to seek a common goal.

Max Du Preez can take Hlaudi Motsoenong, Julius Malema can take Kallie Kriel and Mmusi Maimane can take the Guptas perhaps. If those guys can do it, anyone can.



How banal … how banal!

Banal – what an apt word! Such an apposite description

banal-twitterof our media in this day and age.

It is sadly neglected and under-utilised.  I feel absloutely awesome (ugh!) that I have remembered the word .

It is a strange word which I shunned in my younger days as it made me feel queasy somehow. Probably because of the -anal sound. But in fact its not ‘bay nal’,- it is pronounced ‘buh narl’, much more reflective and condemnatory sounding.

Synonyms are: bland, corny, dumb, hackneyed, mundane, stupid, trite, vapid, blah, bromidic, clichéd, cornball, cornfed, dull as dishwater, everyday, flat, ho-hum, hokey, insipid, noplace, nothing, nowhere, old hat, pabulum, pedestrian, platitudinous, square, stale, stereotyped,yawn stock, tired, tripe, unimaginative, unoriginal, watery, wishy washy, zero

What a glorious all encompassing word!
My mother used ‘common’ quite often, which sounded and was snobbish. Despite the frequent temptation, it would not be acceptable in Australia to use such a term, as there is a perverse pride in the humble and often delinquent origins, predominantly working class and frequently criminal, expelled from or fleeing the then First World.

But back to buh narl. I must admit that it is going to make me appreciate the news so much more now that I can keep the reports in context. I can also forgive Adele for her banal apology for breaking someone’s heart – I mean if you do such a terrible thing, the word ‘apologise’ is likely to drive the poor wounded person into a manic rage! Oh I say, I must apologise: I don’t love you any more, I have found someone else – dashed awkward, what!

 What a pleasing and quintessentially bon mot!


The Death Of A Tree


When I see a tree cut down
whose life was not yet done
I look upon it with a frown
and then look at the sun.
For the sun that nurtured every limb
and every leafy branch
has one less tree to care for
that never had a chance
to say to man
‘Don’t cut me down.
Don’t let me die.
Don’t let the sap
within me dry.’

For every tree that’s been alive
that’s grown upon this earth
is a gift from nature to us all
that’s always known its worth.
The problem as I see it
is man who cannot see
just what it probably feels like?
To be the cut down tree.

It took less than 20 minutes. A man with an orange vest and a chain saw climbed the 30 foot tree next door and sawed it down into mulcher size portions. I heard it grinding up all the good green stuff.
I also heard a sunbird trilling shrilly in dismay. Two other birds whose names I didn’t know, had to veer off in disarray after flying up to land and take a rest at a familiar spot,  then found it gone.
Where will bluebird hide or the pheasant coucal skulk?
It was evergreen and bore delicate mauve trusses of flowers which attracted honeysuckers and lorikiets.  I regret I didn’t know its name.

How red is my neck?

Conservatism and its modernising, anti-traditionalist rivals, liberalism and socialism, are the dominant political philosophies and ideologies of the post-Enlightenment era. Conservatives criticise their rivals for making a utopian exaggeration of the power of theoretical reason, and of human perfectibility. 

Conservative prescriptions are based on what they regard as experience rather than reason; for them, the ideal and the practical are inseparable. Most commentators regard conservatism as a modern political philosophy, even though it exhibits the standpoint of paternalism or authority, rather than freedom.

Andy Hamilton:  Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy                                           http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/conservatism/

I pretty much agree with that and identify myself as of a conservative nature. Back in the day I was regarded as a left wing liberal and warned of deportation in apartheid South Africa.

To gauge my conservatism, I have being trying to articulate what things get my goat or with which I tentatively and delicately disagree.

Let me say first of all that I believe respect and equal opportunity should be offered to everyone, until they stuff it up by poor conduct (and I’ll be the judge of that! Heh, heh!).

The rise of socialism has led to vast numbers of unproductive, dependent voters who have realised how their benefits can be prolonged. The give of the left and the take back of the right result in pendulum governance which can rarely apply sufficient measures to ensure the future economy which is the foundation of a healthy society.

The political party whip and majority rule systems reduce major issues to oversimplified bilateral voting which frequently deny voters’ intents.

trump-clinton-liesA thought that recurs since the Brexit vote and the Trump emergence is how the electorate has seized inappropriate vehicles to express their discontent. It seems democracy has failed to a great extent in the First World . It never succeeded elsewhere really…


Arrests and arraignments should be public. The public’s interest is served by knowing the criminals amongst them. Not guilty does not mean innocent. The redress for wrongful arrest is appropriate compensation. I also believe that life imprisonment is nonsensical.

I particularly dislike unbridled media sensationalism which has been given licence to demand immediate response from participant, afflicted, accused and authority all in the name of public interest. Political opportunity is seized and knee jerk responses ensue to ensure something is seen to be done. This has lead to media sponsorship of newsworthy behaviour.

What also gets me is the opportunity and prominence given to yowling of the previously disadvantaged. This is a carriage that has been built without brakes nor uphill in sight. Its wheels turn equal opportunity and traditional courtesy into reverse discrimination and patronisation accusations as quick as a wink.

Please do yowl if you dislike my sentiments: I agree with myself far too often.

Bike Rides in the ‘burbs

I have been riding bikes for a loong time. At age  14, when helmets were unheard of, I fell off my first bike and landed on my head causing concussion which kept me out of school for a week. .

As I get nearer 70 the involuntary dismounts are more frequent, as confidence, strength and timing dwindle. I fell off again today because I dithered about turning into a path and did so too slowly … so ooover the handlebars I went!

yellow-faced-whipsnakeEarlier I had swerved around a snake which fortunately also took rapid avoiding action – a yellow faced whip snake, I think.

When I was stationed in Mtoko, Zimbabwe, I usually cycled to work on my trusty old bike, riding home for lunch. As I returned one afternoon, I met a group of men who were talking and gesticulating excitedly as I passed thempuff-adder. I didn’t take much notice.  I rounded the bend, and saw a  puff adder writhing about in the dust right in front of me.

Like a jack in the box, I rolled backwards off the bike, which fell over the snake. The men had broken its back with stones and left it. I managed to retrieve my bike and put the snake out of its misery and dispose of the body, so no-one else would have a near heart attack. Fortunately my undignified tumble and twitchy actions thereafter were

Some time ago, I arose at a virtuous 5 a.m. to go on my early morning ride. It was still dark at that time with only a faint glow peeping over the horison. My headlight batteries were expiring so it only emitted a glimmer.
Through the houses onto the path  down a hill to the creek, round a curve to the bridge – a wooden footbridge about 6 feet wide … to be met by a dog, which I swerved around, then its master who I missed, then his other dog who I skilfully avoided, feeling pretty … until the third dog loomed smack in front  … whump!! .. dog over the side and me over the handlebars! Fortunately dog OK and me just shaken (not stirred) – reassured to see it trot off (Staffie X) – it was a neighbour from down the street.
Getting too old for falling off bikes!!
cycle crash.jpg



They paved Paradise …

… and put up a parking lot.

So sang Joni Mitchell about beautiful Hawaii in her 1970 song ‘Yellow Taxi’.

That describes a bit of how I feel about Fraser Island. Going there and catching fish, enjoying the camaraderie of friends and the break from the home domestic regime was good; a rare experience to be treasured.

Fraser is a world heritage listed site: a 75 mile long sand island, girdled by wide sandy beaches and a sea full of fish. The middle bit is covered by Casuarina trees, natural bush, clay cliffs, sand dunes and freshwater lakesfraser20islandStreams and rivers of cold, clear, beautifully pure water flow over the beach to the sea  every few miles. And dingoes prowl the edges of camps.

Fishermen flock there especially from July to September: the tailor ‘run’. Shoals of that lovely swift, fierce, tasty fish spawn there in their thousands. Whales sail by, spouting and breaching; few boats are seen. It is not too difficult to catch a fish. The beaches are wide, one can camp almost anywhere at the back of the beach and the sand will yield clams and bloodworms for bait.

Here’s the rub: fishermen and campers love powerful 4×4 vehicles and many spend preceding months perfecting these mechanised marvels. They congregate in groups and tear up and down the beaches on the firm sands at low tide looking for good fishing or camping spots at speeds of 80 to 100 kph!  This is an almost continuous stream. Some tow trailers laden with camping and fishing gear. They are joined by special high power buses for backpackers who descend on the viewpoints in droves, before boarding and resuming the charge up or down the beach. At certain spots the sand is demarcated for landing strips for light aircraft which arrive in flights, full of sightseers.

I suppose that it is a symptom of modern-day life and I am flailing against a hurricane … but I don’t know if I wish to return there.common_dart

My fishing reputation was enhanced by catching one of the biggest tailor (about 2 – 3 kg) and a few Dart  which are a lovely fighting fish; surprisingly tasty too!